Some of you may know that, at Notre Dame, I was in a Russian Club. This mostly consisted of singing Russian folk/fauxlk songs for an hour a week, having Russian-language conversation hours, and eating Russian food at every available opportunity.
But English Club looks a little different. For one thing, there are a whole lot more English students at USTU than there were Russian students at ND. For a second thing, university life in Russia is a lot less centered on extracurriculars, and people often live relatively far away from class buildings. So gathering for meetings is not as easy, and there isn’t the expectation that all students would be involved in one or several clubs.
…All that said, so far English Club has been a smashing success. On the first week, about 50 students came, which was super overwhelming but AWESOME. By the way, I was interviewed for the school TV station. Even if you don’t speak Russian, you will understand all of the “um”s and stutters coming out of my mouth (It was approximately 500 degrees in that room, and also I hadn’t spoken Russian all day, so it was a struggle. But I love you all, so I’ll let you see the record of my shame) (I literally can’t watch it) (but all of my first grade students did, and they told me so).
As of right now, we have had three meetings. On Thursdays, we get together from 5-6 for a conversation hour. The first week we mostly played games. Yesterday we played games, but we also had a conversation based loosely around the theme of “sports” (which everyone knows is my favorite thing ever). Tonight we had an English Film Night, which began with me tearing my hair out at Apple because apparently that movie I bought on iTunes won’t play over VGA for anti-piracy reasons (found out when I got home that SD works fine, so will try that later) and ended with everybody loving The Sandlot as much as they should.
For conversation nights, we split according to level. On the first week, we split into three groups, because there were so many people. Yesterday we had only two groups, but the beginner group split further for the conversation section. I normally lead the group for beginners, because enunciating is fun. Also translating things into Russian occasionally is good practice for me.
So far my favorite thing about English Club has been meeting people outside the classroom setting. Lecturing is fun and all, but it’s nice to interact informally. Also, both conversation club meetings so far have led directly to hanging out later– last week’s Sunday excursion was one, and last night about 7 of us went out to dinner after the meeting. This probably isn’t politically/socially correct to admit, but I’m pretty ready to have friends, and I am very happy to use any means to make them. Especially if those means include awkward ice breakers and chocolate.
In the next few weeks, in addition to our regular Thursday meetings, we hope to have another Film Night (this time on a projector and not my 13″ laptop screen) and also start organizing a Christmas program. The latter event is part of my personal crusade to introduce the world to all the best Christmas carols and Christina Rossetti.